This is a guest post from Susie Dumond. Susie learned to love books as a nerdy kid in Little Rock, Arkansas. She’s now a full-grown adult nerd working in advocacy and policy in Washington, DC. When she’s not reading, she can be found playing with her dog, Waffles. Follow her on Twitter @SusieDoom.
My girlfriend and I have a lot in common. We both grew up in the South and went to the same college. We usually agree on political issues and could both be filed under the “angry lesbian feminist” category. We enjoy much of the same music, television, and theatre.
But when it comes to books, we just can’t seem to find common ground. Where she likes sci-fi and fantasy, I like mystery and historical fiction. She prefers a thoroughly researched biography while I enjoy memoirs and autobiographies. She’s more into action-driven fiction while I lean toward slower books with strong character development. Even our reading styles are opposite. She’s more of an intermittent reader, prefers audiobooks, and reads one book at a time. I read hard copy and ebooks constantly, usually three to four books at once.
Books are a huge part of my life, and there’s nothing sadder than recommending one of my favorite books to my girlfriend and then hearing a tepid review. So how have we overcome it? Well, as we happily approach our seventh anniversary, I would say we’ve found some good in our literary disagreements. Here are some benefits of dating your bookish opposite:
When we first learned how differently we approach reading, it may have been a little discouraging. However, it ended up being a great way to discuss our different perspectives and how to communicate more effectively. Knowing what kinds of characters and worlds she enjoys imagining taught me a lot about her.
Maintaining Separate Interests
Many relationship experts tout the advantages of having separate interests and pursuits from your partner. Developing yourself as an individual separate from your significant other is crucial to a healthy and happy partnership. While we both love reading, having such different reading styles means we often pursue reading in different ways. My girlfriend likes to listen to audiobooks while going for a run or a bike ride. I joined a book club that reads books in my favorite genres, which allowed me to meet new friends.
No Spoiler Alerts Needed
I’m the worst at spoilers. I love talking about what I’m reading or watching, and I always accidentally let things slip. But when I’m reading books my girlfriend doesn’t have an interest in reading, I can talk about all of the juicy plot twists with no fear of ruining surprises for her. Maybe eventually I’ll learn to be better, but until then, this is a great benefit for me.
Trying New Things
Sometimes I read a book my girlfriend raves about and end up underwhelmed, but sometimes I end up really enjoying books she recommends that would have been nowhere near my TBR list. Being pushed outside of your reading comfort zone can be a great thing.
Finding Common Ground
Because we generally disagree on books, finding ones we have in common is very exciting. We’ve found that we both like to listen to memoir-style audiobooks read by the author during long car trips, and we are both the first to sign up for a Roxane Gay author event. And even when we don’t read the same things, we both love talking to each other about our new-found favorite books.